Friday, December 14, 2018

d66 Sci-Fi Horror Room Details

Because I've had DOOM, Mothership, Alien, Aliens, Teleglitch, et cetera on the mind lately, and because boring rooms are boring.


  1. Flashing emergency lights
  2. Hanging chains
  3. Open electrical ductwork
  4. Venting steam, 2 meters max visibility
  5. Storage crates littered about
  6. Private improvised work/rest area
  1. Jury-rigged lighting
  2. Large AC fans / vents
  3. Schematics and printouts strewn about
  4. Sealed capsule, 1000 kg. Contains Plastic Death Tree
  5. Pitch black
  6. Super loud
  1. Weirdly tiered (about 1 meter difference, good for cover)
  2. Metal grill over wire / steam pipes / liquid / drop
  3. Effluent access, pipes
  4. Broken mainframe materials
  5. Extra flooring / wall / ceiling covers, some glass
  6. Stacks of corpses in body bags
  1. 2d6 barrels of unstable fuel
  2. Artificial park
  3. Foundry re-flow, open, molten metal
  4. Demon sigils carved everywhere, humming faintly
  5. Graffiti'd with rumors
  6. Emergency computer terminal 
  1. Large industrial bags of trash everywhere
  2. Vaulted ceiling, thick columns
  3. Large acquariums
  4. Spare algae farms
  5. Crates full of flour, (one secretly contains powder-based drugs, worth 30k credits)
  6. Overgrown with lightvine, 3 meters visibility despite light as it hangs down from ceiling
  1. Filled with acrid smoke
  2. Lots of nooks and crannies, dim
  3. Bright and very spartan
  4. Shot up, ceiling panels creaking, falling
  5. Narrow, twisting like guts
  6. Loose floor panels

Monday, December 10, 2018

DOOM in an RPG

I wanted to play DOOM as an RPG. (Happy 25th anniversary, DOOM!) There are two things you need: Stay Frosty and Exemplars and Eidolons.

Stay Frosty is an RPG about playing a bunch of Doom Marines or Aliens' Space Marines running around, getting stressed, which makes you more competent until you make an unlucky save and then TENSION EXPLODES and you're murdering everything and ignoring tactics, possibly until you die. It's like if Mothership were about just playing marines and people panic by doing Billy-style last stands from Predator. Remove armor, throw away gun, attack big bad with a giant knife. The reason I don't just use it vanilla, is that the PCs are still fairly flimsy, _especially_ if you want to just run 1 PC against squads of enemies like a Doom Slayer.

To up the PC power level, I use damage, Gifts, and HP/HD from Exemplars and Eidolons.

Exemplars and Eidolons is about playing supernaturally-powerful thieves, wizards, or warriors. Your warrior can take on groups of 1 HD fools and destroy them all, punch through walls, never needs to sleep, that kind of thing. E&E evolved into Godbound, where the PCs are even more over-the-top, but E&E is perfect for what I want to play: solo Doom Slayer vs the first level of that game.

So your PC has 4 stats (Stay Frosty): Brawn, Brains, Dexterity, Willpower. Roll 3d6 and sum. You roll _equal to or over_ your stat: So Brains 9 is like '9+', and you want to roll a 9 or higher. If none of your stats are 5+, set one to 5+. Enemies try to hurt you (or terrify you) by rolling a d20 under your stat, and you subtract the difference between their level and yours from the roll.

Stay Frosty is a Black Hack hack that figured out to make everything the PCs want to do roll over. 20s are good! You use your stats to resolve attacks, unbreaking an APC's engine, wire electricity through a bulkhead, dodge falling rains of fire, that kind of thing.

Tension is as per Stay Frosty - you get tenser and better at kicking ass, until Tension Explodes and you flub your Willpower save and then you're fighting a cyberdemon with a knife. There's also critical hit and critical fail tables in there that I'll use. And enemies, mission generators, pointcrawling advice.

You can carry 21 - Brawn items.

You have 8 HP and gain 4 per level. Monsters use their HD as their HP. Armor is ablative HP that gets ruined and replaced just like in DOOM. Back-and-breast armor has 2 hp, a helmet has 1 hp. You could probably cobble together arm and leg armor and have up to 5 hp - for a 1 HD soldier that's a lot of extra survivability. Perhaps too much, we'll see when I run this more.

Damage is: weapons do 1d6 to 1d20 damage, a roll of 1 is 0 damage, 2-5 is 1 hp/HD of damage, 6-8 is 2 hp/HD, 9+ is 4 hp/HD. A combat knife does 1d6 damage, a pistol does 1d8, as does a 1-handed sword, as do some cheap assault rifles. A good rifle or two-handed weapon does 1d10 or more damage - a chainsaw might do 1d12, as might a super shotgun at optimal range. A BFG does 1d20 damage to an area of enemies but has like 1-2 shots taking up inventory slots.

So the damage is one huge thing that ups a single PC's survivability. You start with 8 hit points, you can take out 1 HD enemies with 1 hit, you can probably go toe-to-toe with a decent-sized demon/alien monster and survive.

You get 2 Effort, from Exemplars and Eidolons. You spend that to use some of your E&E Gifts.

You get some of the Warrior or Generic gifts - 3 at level 1. So you might be able to fight large groups of your-HD-or-less monsters and only get attacked once, or you can rip bulkhead doors down given a few minutes, or you can spend effort for the combat to nat 20 hit your enemy. To me this is another thing that we see the Doom Slayer do all the time.

Passages of Planet Psychon

Rescuing this from Google+:

Here's a Passage-style oraclular list but for Planet Psychon or Ultra Violet Grasslands or whatever Heavy Metal / Moebius inspired thing you want. Some are from Passage, because it has a great list of words in there.

How To Use This: Roll 3d20 and make up a scene or thing or resolve some action using the Oracular Words! That's about it. 

1. Weakness
2. Might
3. PSI
4. Magic
5. Tech
6. Ancient
7. New
8. Crimson
9. Jade
10. Fuchsia
11. Azure
12. Light
13. Shadow
14. Memory
15. Hallucination
16. Walls
17. Portal
18. Discovery
19. Loss
20. Gods

The only thing that really needs explanation is the colors.

CRIMSON: Blood, Chaos, violence, brick, sky, rivers, motion

JADE: Wealth, vegetation, jungle, food, decoration, labyrinthine, complexity

FUCHSIA: Mutation, dust storms, sky, weather, skin, pools

AZURE: Sky, wind, air, starkness, openness, expanse, stillness in motion

Gods can be AI Gods, actual Gods, agents of Gods, false gods...

Memories or Hallucinations can be dreams, dream-quests, desires.

Planet Psychon has a lot of tables for weather, what the hex you're in looks like or sounds like, colors, etc. It's great, it's really vivid. UVG has some similar things going on with its illustrations and descriptions. Google them! They're AWESOME!

Passage is also pretty great. It's here:

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Gamma World lives, Gamma World dies, Gamma World lives again

Gamma World 1e is for sale again! I have Metamorphosis Alpha from Goodman Games, but it's nice to see 1e GW back in pdf and print, all legit.

GW streamlines the subsystem-happy Metamorphosis Alpha - not as much as I would myself, but enough to make a difference. No longer are there different 2d6-for-bows and 3d6-for-laser-guns to-hit rules. I can kind of see the appeal of them - it makes some weapons feel very different! But practically when you're dealing with lots of different armor classes, it seems like it would get clunky.

To streamline GW further you could take the 6 stats - Physical Strength, Dexterity, Constitution, Mental Strength, Intelligence, and Charisma, and run using roll-under rules, Black Hack style. Or roll a d20 + stat >= 20, so you're back in Roll High or Die land. Psychic combat is just two fools rolling their mental strength against one another, radiation is just rolling + Constitution, minus the radiation intensity level.

'There's no attempt to scale things to the players' - Mearls on Gamma World

Also, in the vein of Gamma World returning: Mike Mearls is playtesting a new Gamma World, as a 5E DnD hack. It's funny because I'm not super into 5e, but this is really cool. It sounds like Mearls is nailing the gonzo crazy stuff that happens in GW, and also trying to make it not just a 5E DnD game - it sounds more like you go in gameplay loops of exploring, scavenging, discovering, and kinda-sorta base building. That's over here.

More of the system is described here - this char creation is brilliant and right in line with a Black Hack style game. Take 18 dice, distribute them among your stats, roll and see what you get. You can roll 5d6 for one stat and 1d6 for another. The Tech Level stuff is also great - roll under Intelligence, but you better roll _over_ the 1d4, 1d6 or 1d8 you roll for the tech level, or you have a Big Problem. The teddy-bear-shaped claymore mine explodes in your face! The gun starts firing and will not stop! The tank is moving backwards now and accelerating to 60mph! I think that in Mearls' system you're probably rolling over and the 1d4, 1d6, etc is just to make some low roll failures really bad, but I could also see making it 'success with problems' where you figure out how the thing works, but now you have to survive activating it badly!

I am impressed that just a few details about this hack by Mearls are so evocative of GW and so easily transportable to other games, but that's the beauty of these systems - they play off one another and are highly modular. It's easy to take some components from something based on 5E and throw it into a Black Hack hack.

Thursday, September 6, 2018

Quill: Troika Edition Rev 1

I really love Quill. For solo gaming, it really paces things perfectly for me. This is an attempt to use Troika! and Quill White Box together.

Before each paragraph, roll a Luck check as normal. Within the paragraph, make an appropriate Skill check of some kind based on what you're writing. At the end, decrease or increase your Stamina. Once per letter instead of decreasing stamina you can take some other form of consequences - you use up some gear, you get in a worse situation for subsequent paragraphs, etc.

Pass Luck Check

  • Pass Skill Check: +2 Stamina!
  • Fail Skill Check: Damage as club
Fail Luck Check
  • Pass Skill Check: Damage as dagger
  • Fail Skill Check: Damage as sword
Between letters you can regain 2d6 stamina and 2d6 luck, and test for learning / improving skills. For the reader, a random amount of time passes: d66 1) minutes 2-3) hours 4-5) days 6) months 

This might be a bit too 'you died' for some folks. I picked clubs forgetting that they actually can do quite a bit of damage. But the idea is that if you fail 1 of the 2 checks, there's some kind of negative consequence, if you fail both, it's really bad. Of course, this also disincentivized casting spells, as they use up stamina, so some more thought is probably needed.

In the next rev I imagine luck tests will be to find / acquire needed gear which may give bonuses on skill checks, at the cost of 3 Luck per check (rather than 1). A failed skill check may or may not lead to Stamina loss, depending on the fiction.


Crashing Into Troika
Scenario: You are the lone awakened being aboard a Pilgrimage Barge. Row upon row of plinths house the frozen Sleepers awaiting the day of religious awakening. But of course, your peaceful days of loneliness and holo-dueling are coming to an end. 

Good Phrase / Bad Phrase
Sleepers / endless rows of freezing coffins
Yowling Alarum / strange warbling music
sluggish controls / dead stick
Impact Throne / trash-filled escape pod cavity
Cracked, beached barge / smoldering ruin
Helpful robed being / angry wizardling
Space Tick / warp monster
Cracked Firmament / rent skyway
free Hospitallers / drunk barber chiurgeon 
Bumbling local sheriff / flint-eyed lawman
rent-controlled under-hostel / lower bridge tarp-dwelling


Tilting Windmills
Scenario: The local lightening-generators, a series of windmills, stand still in the becalmed air. Power rationing cripples the area and makes for angry mobs. You must somehow marshal some ineffable (or otherwise) force to prevail upon these conditions and make them tolerable again, lest the local constabulary burn you as a witch.

Good Phrase / Bad Phrase
Utterly becalmed / annual stilled months
Rolling brownouts / blackened city blocks
Angry mobs / riotous ruin cultists
Local Giant Labor Council 7734 / uncooperative officials
Massive whale sandwiches / silo of gruel
Plasmic air-condensors / Glimmer Empire artifacts
Gold-burning backup generators / picky power-shitters
Winning hand / Falsified cards
Giant electrovores / mutant underground leach-eels
Quick caravan / slow lines of refugees
Generous Noble House / tittering sentient-hunters

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Quillhammer 40,000 rev 1 and play

I was inspired a bit by dice-pools from Wrath and Glory, the new 40k tabletop RPG, and am as always inspired by Quill when playing a solo game because it's my favorite for pacing and adventure design.

Also inspired by Quill and Dragon by Tarsicio Lucas, which combines traditional DnD with Quill and gave me the idea to try this with other systems.  

The system:

You have 4 stats. Faith, Kill, Warp, Politick. You pick a good word / bad word pair and roll your d6: your stat dice and a difficulty die. For your stat dice, a 4 or 5 is a success, a 6 is two successes.

Difficulty die result
Successes needed

This was actually a little too easy - or I was lucky the first time around. Next time the difficulty die roll is just the number of successes needed. Roll a 6, need 6, roll a 4, need 4, etc. That is simpler to remember.

I had let a shit-tier PC start with a 6, 5, 4, 4 in stats. This was also probably too high, was basing this from looking at W&G PCs at Tier 3 (ie space marines or mortal equivalent, where their highest aptitude was around 9-11 or so).

So in the future: you need a number of successes equal to a d6 you roll, the difficulty die. You don't know the difficulty in advance. You have some stats: FAITH, KILL, and WARP. (After rev 1 of the playthrough, it felt like Politick was out of place. Perhaps due to the subject matter.) Maybe you sneak around by praying to the Emperor, maybe you're mildly psychic in a way that doesn't attract warp demons, maybe you sneak thanks to your assassin training (ie use KILL). Tech priests definitely keep technology running with Faith. Maybe WARP is just your knowledge of and ability to track / detect / Inquisitor after Warp-tainted heretics, rather than a measure of your own heretical taint.

You roll your stat dice and the difficulty die. If you succeed you write a paragraph using the Good Phrase. If you fail, use the Bad Phrase, and lose 1 HP. If you lose all your HP, you die. You start with 4. You can recover 2 HP between letters. You can die mid-letter, just have a colophon of the crushing despair of eternal war.

You cannot use the same stat until you've rolled for the other ones. Or you can but you can't repeat a stat more than twice per letter.

Battle Barge Serf
Summary: You are a serf aboard a battle barge, rendering hereditary service to the Angel Legion of Omega Angels. They blur through combat katas in practice on a totally foreign end of the 5 km long ship. You have lived all of your life on or around The Gun, making sure it is anointed and in working order, chanting prayers in its aiming room to aid it should it be required to fire.

Good phrase / Bad phrase
  1. daily work / ceaseless toil
  2. loader servitor / rotting mecha-zombie
  3. heretical cult / xeno artifact worshipers
  4. burning wreckage / Chaos lamprey boarderships
  5. Librarian's faithful servant / harshly-speaking mechanoskull
  6. heretical space hulk / holy redoubt of the old Empire
  7. corridor delta-omega 4 / 4km hallway
  8. intact purity seals / mouldering wax fragments
  9. happily humming machinery / spiteful machine spirit
  10. noble Angel / suspicious space marine

Playthrough 1:
Tiber Flackson
Ultramarine serf
Aboard the battle barge, His Golden Will

Tier 1
Faith 6
Kill 5
Warp 4
Politick 4
1/1 Fate (as per WFRP, or my warped understanding of it. A reroll metacurrency, I gave Flackson one because I figured he would be mincemeat.)

Daily work / ceaseless toil
FAITH. Diff 3, Successes: 3
My daily work done in joy, I pray for our sibling vessel in our chapel at the base of The Gun. I light a candle, rendered from old candle-stubs and fat, and pray to the Emperor to watch over all of us as we journey through the Wyrd, as we near 94 days in this languid hellscape. The candle burns brightly in the small chapel, its glow reflected in the low plasteel ceiling. The machine spirits around us growl softly as though in prayers of their own to the Emperor.

heretical cult / xeno artifact worshipers.
KILL. Diff 5, success 4. Spend 1 Fate to reroll and get 6 successes
Heresy hides even in Holy Terra, and as there, so here. Aftwards of The Gun, near the Power Inversion Anterior Hemisphere 3, a Gun-sister on her morning Physics-cal Trainings overheard deranged chanting. Gun-brothers and sisters drew arms while runners left to tell the Holy Angels. But our blood was up, we were determined to show them our Faith lest they purge the lot of us and let the Emperor guide the worthy in the next life.

By the time the runners got to our Angels, my mother's mother's mother's chainsword had already tasted the blood and flesh of heretics. A bolter-round trap nearly kilt me, but the tiny tocket detonated prematurely when it struck my Icon of the Emperor, who surely saved me this day. I am expected to return to full efficiency soon, and will likely be able to speak once our barber-surgeon pulls the last few metal fragments from my throat and jaw.

heretical space hulk / holy redoubt
WARP. Diff 3, Success 4 (2 6's!)
We were prostrated in our sacred velocity harnesses today as the ship's machine spirit roared challenges across the warp at a heretical space hulk and bent our route around it. Ancient Imperial ships twisted in a mockery of their old forms. I noticed my bunkmate, Garrell, genuflecting towards them as we lay in the Targetting Room, watching in case we needed to rain down vengeance from The Gun. When maneuvers ended I arose and slew Garrell, who did not struggle. He knew he had faltered and accepted his death. May the God-Emperor forgive him.

Noble Angel / suspicious space marine
POLITICK Diff 3, Success 3
A noble Angel soldier came to confirm the elimination of the recent heretics and destruction of their works. We of The Gun provided a full accounting. The giant lumbered through, filling our wide ammunition-delivery portals and corridors with his armored bulk. His wise eyes judged us and found us worthy. May the Emperor watch over him. Blessed are we who dwell among His Angels.

Intact purity seals / mouldering wax fragments
FAITH diff 3, success 4
Despite, or because of the trust of that lumbering Angel, I was struck by doubt and journeyed deep into the dark within The Gun. I have crawled now for 7 hours through its humming guts. Every power access and every jam-clearing station have displayed intact purity seals, and I have left candles burning and prayers in my wake, lighting the journey. The Emperor lights all our journeys through this dark universe. May he live forever.

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Plundering the Copy Vats: Encounters

I enjoyed +Chris McDowall's Small Tables and have written one for encounters within the abandoned Copy Vats.
  1. 4 Bad Copies. 1 hp, 8 Str, d6 bent swords, walk sideways, want to find reflections and destroy reflections. 
  2. 10 Bad Copies. As above, trying to destroy puddles of water by stamping or drinking. First time you roll this, one has a mirror Daemon / Oddity they're going to destroy next.
  3. Copied Sage. 8 hp, 13 Str, 16 Cha. d6 + 2 Voice of Ponderousness (area). Wants to obtain the last copy of Transfixation, somewhere in a Vat copy receiver chamber.
  4. Perfect Copy. 9 hp, 14 Str, 14 Dex, 14 Cha, d6+2 heavy fists. Nude, wants to eliminate inadequate life, and/or be worshipped. 
  5. 6 Copy Cultists. 5 hp, d6 rifles, bad trip gas grenade, Cha save or feel like they're really ok, 1d6 Cha damage to ignore this. Want to take copy machines, live forever via copying. Will take any relic from the vats.
  6. Radueirel, Angel. Dex 13, Cha 12, Str 9, hp 4. Twin people occupying a mirrored space, which follows them around, reflecting ranged attacks that target the one in the mirror. Survives unless you step into mirror and kill reflection (which has the same stats). Wants to create perfect lossless copies, knows the Perfect Copy is flawed. 
Damage against Angels is impaired.

Inspired by Bastion Ein Sof

I'm running something with this and the Maze tables from Maze Rats. When I roll a 1 on either d6, there's going to be some Copy Vat nearby. Table for vat contents / functionality soon.